For almost 20 years, stem cells have been used to treat everything from orthopedic and cardio deficiencies to autoimmune and neurological disorders. It’s been used to treat Osteoarthritis, back pain, major muscular and skeletal injuries and Parkinson’s disease.

But did you know stem cells are also used to treat pulmonary disorders such as obstructive pulmonary disease.

Marilyn Calick could barely walk “10 or 15 feet to go to the bathroom without wheezing,” she noted in an interview with

For years she suffered from asthma, and, over the past decade, she developed a progressive disorder called COPD. COPD causes large amounts of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and other severe symptoms.

It’s also the third-leading cause of death in the United States.

Those with COPD have lungs that don’t allow the proper amount of air to flow in and out of their airways. This happens for the following reasons:

  • Airways and air sacs lose their elastic quality.
  • Air sac walls are destroyed.
  • Airway walls become thick and inflamed.
  • Airways produce more mucus than usual, which clog them.

The end result is someone, like Calick, who struggles to go about his or her daily life.

Dr. David Borenstein of New York City uses stem cells to treat COPD. “The ideal candidate for this procedure is someone with an early-stage [form of] COPD, so we can halt the progression of the disease,” Borenstein told

At the moment, there is no cure for COPD and most doctors don’t know how to manage or reverse the damage caused by the disorder. That is, most doctors, except those using alternative, stem cell treatments.

To treat COPD, Borenstein draws cells from a patient’s buttocks or midsection and then separates them in a centrifuge.

Borenstein then mixes these stem cells in a solution and the patient inhales them. About two-thirds of patients feel better within five months—some as soon as several weeks—after the procedure. Results last for about a year.

While the method is expensive—$8,000—and not covered by insurance, Calick does not regret spending the money, saying she could “walk further” and “go out with different friends, stand for long periods of time [and] walk places.”

And no longer is she restricted to only using the elevator. She can happily walk up a flight of stairs, which something she hasn’t been able to do in years.